Arts cuts: could Coexist offer a new way?

With arts funding facing cuts, could co-operative arts management company Coexist provide the answer to a self-funded enterprise model?

Bristol City Councils’s budget cuts, announced last week, are a further blow to arts groups in the city, so commercialising the arts might provide an alternative option where public funding is scarce.

Coexist, the co-operative management company in Hamilton House, Stokes Croft, shows the arts can function independently of council funding.

Bristol City Council invests over £900,000 in the city’s arts. The latest proposal wants to reduce funding by £190,000 in 2018/19 and a further £190,000 in 2021/22.

The Equality Impact Assessment from the council states that it is ‘difficult to assess the impact’ it will have on arts providers.

The proposed cuts stand to affect many celebrated arts institutions and events in the city, including the Watershed and St Pauls Afrikan Caribbean Carnival. Funding will be pulled whether a project works with young people, elderly people or those across minority groups.

The Canteen - 'The belly' of Hamilton House. Photo: Nina Napier
The Canteen – ‘The belly’ of Hamilton House. Photo: Nina Napier

Coexist is a collective group which operates a space in Stokes Croft that helps Bristol with the opportunity ‘live, work, play and innovate to create a better world for each other, our community and the environment’.

Jon Newey, Coexist’s community engagement manager said: “A benefit to the model we have here is that 99.5% of it is self-funded, only a very small amount comes from funded grants for projects in the funding.”

Coexist generates income in a number of ways: licensing space, receiving a percentage of the sales from a local artist’s work and they have a vast programme of well being classes and workshops to bring in the cash.

Relaxation spot before yoga Photo: Nina Napier
Relaxation spot before yoga Photo: Nina Napier

A third of what Coexist makes comes from the income of licensing space. Newey said: “There is an absolute need for funding support but we are lucky to have a resource of a building and sympathetic partners”.

Newey feels there could be a danger that other organisations are being pushed towards an American model of philanthropy and income generation. He said: “Where there are outreach groups and those with decreased access find it very hard to detach from public service contracting and generate income”

Hamilton House is home to many creative groups who value the unique way it is run and managed:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.